Definitely one to watch: ‘American Freethought’
PRACTICALLY from the day it was concocted, the cult of Christianity was seized upon by a dysfunctional assortment of prigs, prodnoses, prudes, godwits, fussbudgets, fanatics, monomaniacs, busybodies, snoops, meddlers and the mentally deranged to lay down lunatic rules and order people to obey them.
Those that refused to kowtow to the intolerant, idiotic Christian creed faced cruel punishments over subsequent centuries. The founder of the Freethinker, G W Foote, was but one, having been jailed for blasphemy.
The best known of these zealots in modern Britain was Mary Whitehouse, who waged a war on the “permissive society”, and brought Gay News to trial for blasphemy, winning her private prosecution.
But in the previous century, I discovered a few years back, America had its very own Mary Whitehouse, one Anthony Comstock, creator of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, an institution dedicated to controlling public morality.
This godly reptile, with the help of pious supporters, slithered his way into a position of enormous power, and was actually appointed a special agent of the United States Postal Service, with police powers up to and including the right to carry a weapon. With this power he zealously prosecuted those he suspected of criminal acts, in particular the distribution of “objectionable” material.
This prompted me to write a piece about him in the April, 2008, printed edition of the Freethinker.
A great supporter of his was another Christian crazy – a Baptist named Samuel Colgate. Yes, that Colgate, founder of the soap and toothpaste empire who was President of the Society for the Suppression of Vice.
I learned of Comstock via a book published in 2007 by Roderick Bradford, D M Bennett, The Truth Seeker. Bennett, founder of The Truth Seeker magazine, fell foul of Comstick, and wound up in prison for 13 months (I blogged the details here, and in May 2008 the Freethinker carried a review of the book).
Later Bradford made a movie about Bennett which was awarded Grand Prize for Best Feature Length Film at the 2011 Portland Humanist Film Festival. You can access it here.
Well, today I was delighted to learn from Bradford that he has just unveiled his most ambition project to date – a riveting four-hour documentary film series on the history of secularism and censorship in America. The executive producer of American Freethought is Tom Flynn, and it has been produced in association with the Council for Secular Humanism.
Frederic C Rich, author of the chilling Christian Nation: A Novel, is quoted on the Vimeo site as saying:
Rod Bradford’s film on the development of the American Freethought movement, and Thomas Paine’s seminal role, is a comprehensive, accurate, and illuminating work, masterfully told. It tells a story long overlooked, especially in academia, and the public is served well in bringing America’s complete history to life.
If you have any free time on your hands, I urge you to watch this fascinating and illuminating documentary by following this link.